RIP Pete Postlewaite and Anne Francis

We lost two outstanding, though very different, movie performers today both, coincidentally, from cancer. Both also appear to have been people you might actually want to know in real life.

The extremely well-regarded actor and environmental and antiwar activist Pete Postlewaite was only 64 and leaves us much too soon. His distinctive face was familiar to anyone who went to many movies from the early nineties on and is maybe best known for his outstanding work in movies like “In the Name of the Father” and “The Usual Suspects.”  He was in a number of films directed by Steven Spielberg, who essentially called him the best living actor in the world.

Below is his famous speech from the end of “Brassed Off.” I have yet to see this one myself, but check out the many slightly unusual choices here. He’s not afraid to show the combination of nervousness and righteous indignation that might fuel a moment like this.

The gang at Popdose has more, as does David Hudson at MUBI, Ed Copeland, and Anne Thompson.

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The beautiful and unabashedly sexy Anne Francis, who has left us at age 80, never became a huge movie star, though she did become a TV icon of sorts as “Honey West,” a private eye with a pet ocelot billed as a sort of female James Bond. To movie fans, she has nevertheless achieved immortality for a few key roles. As all “Rocky Horror Picture Show” viewers know, she starred in “Forbidden Planet” in which, as the extremely innocent daughter of a semi-mad (more like deeply neurotic) scientist played by Walter Pidgeon, she had to pull off asking Leslie Nielsen‘s space-ship captain the immortal question, “What is kiss?” (It wasn’t a band featuring Gene Simmons.) She also had crucial roles in two of the more memorable Hollywood “message” films of the 1950s, Richard Brooks’ “Blackboard Jungle” and John Sturges’ “Bad Day at Black Rock.”

In person, she seems to have no shortage of what movie and TV characters used to call “spunk.” You can see what I mean in this TCM interview clip about how she vehicularly resolved a spat with screen legend Spencer Tracy on “Black Rock.” She also displays no shortage of spirit and personality in this interesting combination of promotional and educational film shot at the Santa Monica Airport and featuring the late columnist, Army Archerd.

No word on whether she ever got her license, but I can certainly imagine her flying solo.

Much more at MUBI, as usual.

  

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I think Paul Haggis wants to be an action director now

That’s really the only conclusion I can draw after seeing the trailer for “The Next Three Days,” which starts out like a fighting-for-justice movie along the lines of Jim Sheridan’s “In the Name of the Father” and then becomes moves into an even more well-worn subgenre. Whatever else might be true about the sometimes extremely controversial work of Haggis’s, including the critically lauded, Academy Awarded, but cinephile-despised “Crash” — easily the most divisive Best Picture winner since the similarly largely cinephile-hated “American Beauty” — he knows how to write entertaining dramatic scenes. Could be okay.

H/t – THR’s Jay Fernandez.
  

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A Chat with Paterson Joseph (“Survivors”)

Paterson Joseph is the sort of actor whose face tends to be familiar more to the Anglophiles who frequent BBC America than to the average Stateside viewer, a fate owed to the fact that the majority of his projects – such as “Casualty,” “William and Mary,” “Peepshow,” and “Hyperdrive,” to name a few – have had highly limited screenings on our shores. They’ll soon see him, however, as one of the stars of BBC America’s latest import, “Survivors,” which premieres on Saturday, Feb. 13th. I was able to catch up with Joseph a few hours after he’d done the TCA panel for the series, but the start of our conversation was delayed momentarily by the fact that he popped into the bar just at the moment that I was saying good night to my daughter on the phone. Thankfully, however, he was quite tolerant of my family matters, and we soon settled in to talk about “Survivors,” though not until after I let him know why I recognized him.

Bullz-Eye: When I first started watching “Survivors,” I saw you and I kept thinking, “I know this guy. I know I know this guy.”

Paterson Joseph: Oh, really? (Laughs)

BE: And then I suddenly realized, “It’s the Marquis!”

PJ: Ah, yes: the Marquis De Carabas! (Smiles) I loved “Neverwhere.” Absolutely loved it. And I wish…see, if the “Doctor Who” we have now had happened that same year, before we did “Neverwhere,” then “Neverwhere” would’ve worked like a dream, because it would’ve had all the money that it needed. Unfortunately, at that point, the only proper sci-fi that we had was “Blake’s 7,” which had not gone down well at all…and I suspect you know exactly what I mean by your expression.

BE: I don’t know what you’re talking about. (Laughs)

PJ: (Laughs) And, so, sci-fi was persona non grata until “Doctor Who,” but then “Doctor Who” happened, and…well, you know all this, but now fantasy drama, sci-fi, has got lots of money. It’s a damned shame. But Neil Gaiman, I think, is still trying to get a movie done here. He’s working on it.

BE: I’m ready for it. I’m ready for “Neverwhere,” “American Gods,” and anything else of his that they want to adapt.

PJ: Yeah, he’s great, man. Great.

BE: So what was your familiarity with the original version of “Survivors”?

PJ: I probably saw the opening sequence when I was about 10…and then was told to go to bed. (Laughs) So I had never really seen it, but I did remember the opening sequence when I saw it on YouTube. It’s quite striking. And then I watched the first three episodes when I got this job, and…I might as well have done in some ways, because it’s so vastly different.

BE: Yeah, Adrian (Hodges) was just saying about how he made a point of changing a key moment in the first episode, just to keep people on their toes.

PJ: That’s right!

BE: So how developed was the character of Greg Preston when you first came aboard? Did he evolve at all once you got into the role?

PJ: He was always…I mean, I described it in my interview when I read it as…he seems a bit like a guy who’s basically walking on water. Everything seems fine, he’s walking away, everything’s very serene. But underneath is a sea of shit. That’s how I described it to them in the interview, and I think that’s right. I think Adrian always had that in mind, that there was a world of pain under Greg’s easygoing persona. Even in his sort of dismissive “I don’t need people” persona, there was a world of pain and desperation, and you see that in…well, for you guys, it’s in Episode 7. It all comes out. Literally. You see everything.

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“New Moon” and “The Blind Side” to have repeat box office bout

With a number of mostly rather underwhelming looking new films debuting this post-Thanksgiving/pre full-Christmas insanity week in medium-to-wide-release, box office pros like jolly Carl DiOrio of The Hollywood Reporter and Variety‘s Pamela McClintock appear to agree pretty strongly that the battle this week will once again be between the romantic monsters of Summit’s “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” and the football loving Red State good Samaritans of Warners’ “The Blind Side.” Considering that, as I wrote about last Sunday, “New Moon” dropped by 70% in its second last week while “The Blind Side” actually grew without the benefit of a major expansion — something I’ve never seen in the entire time I’ve been writing these posts — my money’s on the Sandra Bullock feel-good drama.

Picture-17

Of the four new releases said to be appearing in 1,000 to 2,000+ theaters this weekend, the most promising, both artistically and commercially, is “Brothers,”  a remake of a widely acclaimed Afghanistan war-themed 2005 drama from Denmark. Distributed by Lionsgate, the movie is an intense love triangle involving the not-actually-dead young Afghanistan war vet played by Tobey Maguire, his not-actually-a-widow played by Natalie Portman, and his black sheep brother, Jake Gyllenhaal — who looks so much like a brother to Maguire that he once is supposed to have nearly replaced him in one of the “Spiderman” sequels.  (If they worked Elijah Wood into the cast, they would have achieved the baby-faced, raspy-voiced star trifecta.)

Director Jim Sheridan of “My Left Foot,” “In the Name of the Father,” and “In America” has a real flair for intense tales that dance around the edges of melodrama and then sometimes dive right in. The one-two-three punch of the very well known youngish stars would make you think this should come in with a decent amount of money — at least in the double digits. However, considering the growing news and controversy around the Afghanistan war, the topic might be a bit too timely for audience tastes. Also, a film like this should probably should at least crack 70% on the Tomatometer, especially, but hitting it of with something  in the neighborhood of 5060% of critics will have to do. Worse reviewed films have received Oscar nominations, however.

Robert De Niro in Next up is another remake of a foreign language hit, this time of an Italian comedy-drama/tearjerker from 1990 that starred the great Marcello Mastroianni and was directed by Giuseppe Tornatore of “Cinema Paradiso.” (Not at all a favorite of mine, by the way.) Disney’s PG-13 “Everybody’s Fine” brings us Robert De Niro as a widower trying to reconnect with his children and grandchildren and costars Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, and Sam Rockwell. A sentimental tale for the holidays with this kind of star power should have some wattage in theory, though  apparently the “tracking” is kind of stinking for this film which isn’t really wowing the critics either. Our own Jason Zingale liked it mainly on the strength of DeNiro’s performance but this one feels like the movie you settle for if grandma, or maybe great-grandma, wants to see something nice and you can’t get into the “The Blind Side.”

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